It was the fourth day of the festival and team of the film S Durga still did not have any clarity on a slot for the screening of their movie. Unable to find a solution or people who could give answers they spoke to the media.
They were supported by Anand Gandhi who addressed the media as an independent film maker and not as a member of the steering committee of IFFI. He said: “When we talk about cinema or a film festival that celebrates the future of cinema, we need to be responsible and respect filmmakers who take us to the future as it may not always be a film that is comfortable; it may be one that asks questions and challenges beliefs.” He therefore said that it is important for a film of such calibre to be given a fair chance at the festival.
He believes that this matter should be taken seriously by the festival authorities who need to address the issue urgently to make the festival an inclusive one. “Ofcourse film festivals are curated and guidelines are followed, but when a jury strongly recommends a film, I see no reason why it should be dropped,” he said.
Lead actress of the film Rajshri Deshpande speaking to the media expressed deep anguish over the matter. She said: “As artistes we should be watching films and having creative discussion but unfortunately we are here discussing about controversies and when our film will be screened. It is very frustrating.”
She went on to explain that S Durga is a story of every human being. There is nothing in the film that will hurt anyone’s sentiments. She said that people need to watch the film first and then decide. “I don’t think anyone’s religious sentiments will be hurt with sexy Durga. Sexy is bold for me. I think sexy is that I am standing here and talking to everyone and fighting for my right. But the way people look at me is different they don’t see me as a bold and courageous woman but they associate sexy with the body.”
The actor Kannan Nair also echoed the sentiment that if S Durga is not screened at the festival, they would have lost their faith in the festival and the Constitution of India. “If they wanted to drop our film, festival should not have kept any jury or selection committee; it should be totally commercial,” he said.
He believes that the festival director Sunit Tandon is shunning responsibility by evading questions related to screening. “If he says he is not the right person to comment, please tell us who the right person is. He is the festival director and the authority but why is he running away from his responsibility,” he said.
When a reporter asked if reports of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry were finding it difficult to find a slot for the film, Kannan replied: “How can this be? It is our right to screen the film. We have won the case. We travelled 50 festivals and won around 15 awards. It got a special mention at MAMI Festival so why is IFFI not giving us a slot. This is childish argument that they cannot find a slot for a 90 minute film,” he said.